Fantomas’ “Suspended Animation” is a great record, not for everyone, certainly. Mike Patton, clearly influenced by John Zorn’s Naked City project and the work of Carl Stalling, has constructed a jump cut record that is not dissimilar to much of Naked City’s output– this is one thing I’ve found somewhat underdocumented reading reviews of the album, but having spent a little time listening to it, this was my first impression.
Patton does, however, find his own voice as he seamlessly blends genres– notably cartoon music in the Stalling model and endless sound effects. Like Naked City, it can be frustrating at times when you find an idea you like and its development is abandoned in exchange for something else, but the statement as a whole is what’s really important. Like all Fantomas records, there’s a high theatrical feels on this one as it slides between various styles, always returning to a sort of sludgey metal feel and a cartoon feel. Patton’s vocals are largely wordless, though there is some lyric here and there.
One thing that I see a lot of is fans of metal seeking Fantomas material having heard its a “metal supergroup”– if you don’t like experimental music, you probably won’t like this one, regardless of who’s in the band– most of these guys have been associated with Zorn’s work more recently than with metal bands, and it shows. On the other hand, if you are a metal fan and you’re a bit open minded, there may be enough here to latch onto to allow you to develop an appreciation for it, but Fantomas is not something that will come easy– you sort of have to get used to hearing it before it makes sense.
If you’re a fan of Patton’s work with Fantomas (even if you disliked “Delerium Cordia”) or for that matter with Mr. Bungle, this is a good one to check out. I’d also recommend this to John Zorn/Naked City fans, they’ll find quite a bit to like on this one (ditto for “General Patton vs. the X-ecutioners”). Conversely, if you did like this, check out Zorn’s Naked City band, I think you’ll find it very rewarding.